NADPH oxidases: an overview from structure to innate immunity-associated pathologies

Cell Mol Immunol. 2015 Jan;12(1):5-23. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2014.89. Epub 2014 Sep 29.


Oxygen-derived free radicals, collectively termed reactive oxygen species (ROS), play important roles in immunity, cell growth, and cell signaling. In excess, however, ROS are lethal to cells, and the overproduction of these molecules leads to a myriad of devastating diseases. The key producers of ROS in many cells are the NOX family of NADPH oxidases, of which there are seven members, with various tissue distributions and activation mechanisms. NADPH oxidase is a multisubunit enzyme comprising membrane and cytosolic components, which actively communicate during the host responses to a wide variety of stimuli, including viral and bacterial infections. This enzymatic complex has been implicated in many functions ranging from host defense to cellular signaling and the regulation of gene expression. NOX deficiency might lead to immunosuppression, while the intracellular accumulation of ROS results in the inhibition of viral propagation and apoptosis. However, excess ROS production causes cellular stress, leading to various lethal diseases, including autoimmune diseases and cancer. During the later stages of injury, NOX promotes tissue repair through the induction of angiogenesis and cell proliferation. Therefore, a complete understanding of the function of NOX is important to direct the role of this enzyme towards host defense and tissue repair or increase resistance to stress in a timely and disease-specific manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / immunology
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Wound Healing


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases